Review: Central Station by Lavie Tidhar

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I probably never would have read Central Station at all if not for the fact that this year’s r/Fantasy Bingo had a cyberpunk square. I hate the very thought of cyberpunk. Oppressive high tech societies? No thanks. So in the oldest tradition of Bingo, I went out in search of edge cases. Oddities. This was one of the candidates I couldn’t quite choose between – then I saw it in a bookstore and it was decided. And I couldn’t be more glad I did.

A group of disgruntled house appliances watched the sermon in the virtuality – coffee makers, cooling units, a couple of toilets – appliances, more than anyone else, needed the robots’ guidance, yet they were often wilful, bitter, prone to petty arguments, both with their owners and themselves.

The easiest way to describe it would be “gorgeous sci-fi fever dream.” I have a long-standing love for weird, trippy books and for slice of life, so I could hardly have stumbled upon a more perfect match for my tastes. And before I scare anyone off: it’s strange, yes, but never confusing.

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Hard Contact by Karen Traviss (Star Wars; Republic Commando #1)

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I admit, before I started my Star Wars binge I had more than a few prejudices about tie-ins (just ask all my friends who had to listen to me whining about the tie-in r/Fantasy Bingo square for months on end). I heard bad things about quality. And I just never saw the point. Sure I have played video games that had tie-ins before, but I’ve never really cared about video game lore. But Star Wars has left me with a few specific itches I desperately want scratched, no matter how, plus a desperate need for more. Tie-ins, fanfic, tv series, canon or non-canon, give me all of it.

Luckily, Hard Contact is a damn good book that went above and beyond my expectations. I came in for an easy read with clone troopers and Mandalorian culture (which it was!) and stayed for the thorough examination of how fucked up the concept of a clone army really is and the wonderful (at times even adorable!) interactions between the characters. In other words, it was an absolute delight and I can easily see myself devouring the rest of the series.

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Star Wars Without Nostalgia: The Sequels

Since these movies are relatively new, spoilers will be covered up with white text inside square brackets: [spoiler] (highlight to reveal). If this method does not work for you – and it should on my blog – proceed with caution, as the post gets increasingly full of tags around the middle.

Index

There was one thing I knew about the sequels going in: they are wildly divisive. While the originals are mostly revered and the prequels mostly reviled, the reactions to the sequels run to both extremes and everything in between even among the reasonable fans. That made me doubly curious. I have “done my duty” in watching the rest of the movies, but my history with Star Wars doesn’t go back even a month. I had no expectations except a strong suspicion that the dialogue will be better and the CGI finally unnoticeable. All I had was hope.

Strap yourself in because this is going to be long. Really long.

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Star Wars Without Nostalgia: The Mandalorian

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Here it is, the show that turned my most stubbornly reluctant self into a massive Star Wars fan. Initially, I thought I’d give an episode a try out of curiosity, that I’d watch it for Baby Yoda. I was gloriously wrong. I fell in love with every single aspect of the show, from the titular Mandalorian, to the world, the soundtrack, other characters, and I fell in love hard. I fell in love with it as I fell in love with The Gray House, the obsessive, all-consuming, dorky passion that’s as intense as it is rare. It made me happy in a time when I needed it the most.

I have talked about it some in the intro already, but I really did not want to go into it too much until it was finished and I have watched all the episodes, just in case it fucked up in the later episodes. Which I’m glad to say it did not! After the last episode, I can comfortably say this is my favourite show, and generally one of my favourite pieces of media ever.

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Review: All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater

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A desert is a lot like an ocean, if you replace all of the water with air. It stretches out and out and out in unfathomable distance and, in the absence of sunlight, turns to pure black. Sounds become secrets, impossible to verify as true until the light returns. It is not empty merely because you cannot see all of it. And you know in your heart that it isn’t—that it is the opposite of empty once it is dark, because things that do not like to be watched emerge when all of the light is gone. There is no way to know the shape of them, though, until your hand is on them.

Where do I even begin. This is one of those book that feel practically tailor-made to my preferences. It’s my catnip, pure bait – slow-paced, magical realism kind of deal with lovely prose. It would be more of a surprise if I didn’t love it. I have been warned that the author was seriously ill while writing it, that it’s different, that people generally like it less than the others. And after finishing I’m like, are you kidding? As the book itself says, perfection is an impossibility. But it sure came damn close.

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Reread: Vita Nostra by Sergey & Marina Dyachenko

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There were plenty of people loved by someone, the ones who carried a seashell, a button, or a black and white photograph in their pockets; no one had been saved by memories, no one had been protected by words and pledges, and those loved greatly by others died too.

I have a bit of a history with Vita Nostra. I don’t know if I first heard of it in a rec thread or found it myself after reading The Scar, but I first read it in 2015, when the translation was ebook-only and more or less self-published. I picked it for during a long car ride…and devoured it in one sitting. And nobody has seemed to have heard of it. I continued wanting to yell about it when it became unavailable, and when it was finally rereleased, of course I went for the hardcover. Then finally, in September, I got the chance to lead a bookclub and the circle was complete.

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Review: Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers (Wayfarers #3)

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From the ground, we stand. From our ships, we live. By the stars, we hope.

I’ve been saving this book for when I’d need a pick-me-up. After a very stressful August and an important exam seemed like the perfect time to crack it open. Initially, I was a bit surprised – it starts with a big tragedy and a lot of death. But then it settles in and it’s exactly the kind of optimistic, thoughtful, quiet sci-fi I wanted.

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